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NZers Fail To Recognise Stroke Symptoms

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Mark Vivian
Mark Vivian

 New Zealanders' inability to recognise the symptoms of a stroke is costing lives and lifestyles, the Stroke Foundation says.

Research showed 27 percent of New Zealanders could name only one stroke symptom, including a drooping face, one weak arm and slurred speech, while a third could not name any, Stroke Foundation chief executive Mark Vivian said.

Failure to recognise the symptoms led to needless deaths and impaired lifestyles, but a stroke treatment called TPA could greatly reduce damage and speed up recovery when administered within 4-1/2 hours of an ischemic stroke's onset, he said.

Tissue plasminogen activator or TPA is injected into the bloodstream through an intravenous line. It travels in the blood until it reaches the clot that is causing the stroke and then it breaks up the clot until blood can flow past it toward the affected areas.

Mr Vivian said 80 percent of the population had access to the treatment through their District Health Board but only 3 percent of those admitted to hospital for a stroke received the treatment.

"People are missing out because they are not getting to hospital quickly enough to receive it," he said.

Wellington Hospital stroke physician Gerry McGonigal said a national stroke awareness campaign was well overdue.

"The public must be able to recognise the symptoms of stroke and know to call 111 immediately," he said.

"Awareness campaigns have run or are running in much of the developed world (but) New Zealand is lagging behind."

Dr McGonigal said he had seen "amazing" results in some stroke patients.

"I've seen patients admitted to hospital within 1-1/2 hours of their stroke, having very severe strokes, who have walked out of hospital within three days."

Dr McGonigal said the FAST acronym -- Face, Arm, Speech, Time -- could help people recognise stroke systems.

Strokes kill about 2000 people every year.


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